The sacred tetramorph was derived from the ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Babylonian sphinxes of antiquity symbolizing the body of a bull (), the wings of a falcon (), the paws of a lion (), and the face of a man (). The four creatures are symbols of the age and constellations of Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius. These four constellations symbolize the fixed signs of the Zodiac. The tetramorph also represents the four seasons of the great Platonic year. NASA defines the Platonic year as “The period of one complete cycle of the equinoxes around the ecliptic, about 25,800 years.”
- Taurus (): Spring Equinox: St Luke
- Leo (): Summer Solstice: St Mark
- Scorpio (): Autumn Equinox: St John
- Aquarius (): Winter Solstice: St Matthew
In Christianity, the Tetramorph represents the Four Evangelists or four living creatures derived from the Book of Ezekiel. St Matthew, St Mark, St Luke, and St John are depicted accordingly. Ezekiel describes his vision as such.
“As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.” – Book of Ezekiel
”And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.” – as described in the Book of Revelation
So, how did this come to be represented in Christianity? Well, the prophet Ezekiel was among the Jews exiled to Babylon and his vision from which the Tetramorph was brought into Christianity was likely influenced by the art of ancient Assyria.